Case Study

Retail Tag And Label System Improves Distribution

Source: SATO America

End user: Japanese Clothing Manufacturer

System: Label software and high performance thermal label and tag printer

Benefits: Easy-to-use label design software and specialty thermal printers offer a more efficient way of labeling and shipping garments and as a result, productivity increases.

Overview: In the apparel industry, distribution to multiple destinations has to be precise and fast.  The customers of a famous clothing manufacturer in Japan asked their department stores and wholesalers to examine their logistics management to try and improve accuracy, and the speed of deliveries.

Issues- Label Overload: The manufacturer was printing in excess of 200,000 tags and labels each day in more than 400 unique designs.  Once printed, the tags and labels needed to be attached to the appropriate garments. Printing shipping labels were also part of the manufacturer’s extensive distribution process. A complete system that was able to transfer information direct from their ACOS/Unisys System in a fast, reliable and manageable manner was needed.

Solution- Automated Tag Printing: The manufacturer selected a data collection and labeling system to meet the requirements of its distribution process and customers. First, data transfer was addressed. Ordering information was consolidated in two locations, Tokyo and Osaka, where it was then transferred to the factory/warehouse and into their ACOS/Unisys System. By installing this software on the manufacturer's server and setting up database links, information is now automatically transferred into the label format and is ready to print. Data can also be updated from the label software program; ensuring information is ready to print at any given time. Thirty-three specialty tag and label printers were installed in the manufacturing area, connected to the server, to print necessary labels. The specialty thermal printer was selected because of its ability to produce a crisp image on both labels and tags while handling a variety of texts, graphics and barcodes. A personal computer is then responsible for controlling two printers simultaneously. All printers are electrically monitored by a bi-directional communication interface, allowing a central station to check the printers' status and monitor when the supply of consumables is running low. This ensures the printers run at their maximum capacity. For added convenience, most of the 400 label and tag formats have been added to the library of formats. The manufacturer is now able to access these designs, stored on a password protected website, and can download them straight into the new application software. This saves the user time by not needing to create a new program for the latest label and tag designs.

Due to the large capacity of designs, a printer's label and ribbon supply has to be changed often. To reduce downtime, printers are placed according to their duty cycle or label design. This allows the operators to minimize the frequency of changing consumables. Most of the label formats include JAN code, a barcode commonly used in Japan. During the inspection process these barcodes are scanned to create another database to print shipping labels. An ASN, (advance shipment notice) is also printed and sent to the garments' destination. This prepares them for the receipt of goods. This process is very effective in eliminating double counting, at shipping and receiving points, and results in faster processing while eliminating return costs.

Benefit: Installing a label design software application has enabled the manufacturer's warehouse to collect real-time information at their fingertips, ready to print. The software is user friendly and easily handles the different designs. To make the operator’s task easier, label designs are downloaded quickly and efficiently from the vast library of formats.  The specialty thermal tag and label printer is extremely reliable and requires very little maintenance. The machine is able print on a variety of materials, and changing consumables is a quick and easy process. Thus, the manufacturer can quickly respond to customer demands, effortlessly changing a printer's job. The new system has increased information accuracy and processing speed. The overall result has been a tremendous increase in productivity.